Expanding Student Experiences

A key area of focus for the SAISD Foundation is to expand student experiences both inside and outside of the classroom for students across the 90 schools in San Antonio ISD. Together with the talented educators on our campuses and the curriculum teams in the central office, we are investing in new opportunities and resources focused in STEM, arts and literacy.

In partnership with our donors, we are working in STEM to ensure that students in SAISD have access to experiences that bring math and science to life and bring dynamic, engaging programs like coding, 3D printing, robotics and eSports into our schools. In the Arts, our investments in music, instruments, dance, and theatre create opportunities for our students to grow in creative expression, engage in new art forms and build SAISD’s growing fine arts programs.

In our efforts to level the playing field for our students, we support both ongoing programs and short-term initiatives. Our programs are the projects we know are making a significant difference for our students and we have committed to supporting them for the long term. Our initiatives either serve as pilot programs that are being tested for impact, or areas that we are helping SAISD expand, but will be sustained by the school district.

Our Initiatives

For the SAISD Foundation, our initiatives are those projects we are piloting and we believe have the potential to make a significant impact on our students or we are assisting the district to expand, but they will then sustain. Accordingly, we work to author grants or funding requests to make one-time or short-term investments in these areas.

Mariachi Expansion

With 90% of the student population identifying as Hispanic, one of our strategic goals is to partner with the district to expand Cultural Arts Programs, including Mariachi, that honor the culture and heritage of our largest student population. Our aim is to add 10 new programs over the next four school years (5 in 2021-22 and 5 in 2023-24). In partnership with the SAISD Fine Arts Department, five elementary Mariachi programs will be added at the elementary and middle school level, to increase early exposure to instruments and infuse talent into the growing secondary programs.  With this expansion plan and Mariachi education icons like Belle Ortiz by our side and Juan Ortiz serving as an instructor in one of our programs, San Antonio ISD programs will have the opportunity to regain their reputation as leaders in Mariachi education.

In the 2021-2022 school year, Mariachi programs were added in the following schools: Ball Elementary, Barkley-Ruiz Elementary, Herff Elementary, J.T. Brackenridge Elementary, Smith Elementary, and Democracy Prep (middle school students) at the Stewart.

Your contributions can help expand this program.  Read more about the launch of this program here.

3D Printing

From nearly one hundred applicants, thirty-two school-based staff members, including classroom teachers, librarians, art and special education teachers and instructional coaches at twelve SAISD campuses were selected for the first SAISD 3D Printing Academy in fall 2021. Participants attended six hours of training and received one-on-one coaching from SAISD’s Educational Technology and Extended Learning staff as they collaborated to develop 3D printing projects tied to core curriculum. These educators were equipped with two mobile 3D printers, a cart, accessories, a set of 3D pens, and a library of 3D printing literature. Teachers each implemented at least one project with 3rd, 4th, or 5th-grade students on their campus this fall, during the school day.

This opportunity would not have been possible without partnership from Valero Energy Benefit for Children and 3M Corporation. We are looking to expand this program and partner with SAISD’s Career and Technical Education staff as we add middle schools with the second cohort in April/May 2022.

“My students and I dove headfirst into the 3D printing world and found it to be challenging and rewarding. I am looking forward to continuing to integrate 3D printing into art instruction, knowing I am preparing students for the real world.” – Katy Bleyl, Art Teacher at Margil Elementary

Ballet Folklorico Expansion

With 90% of the student population identifying as Hispanic, one of our strategic goals is to partner with the district to expand Cultural Arts Programs, including Ballet Folklorico, that honor the culture and heritage of our largest student population. Our aim is to add 10 new programs over the next four school years (5 in 2021-22 and 5 in 2023-24). In partnership with the SAISD Fine Arts Department, programs will be added to both the elementary as well bring the art back to middle and high schools in SAISD.  In doing so, students in the popular elementary programs will have the opportunity to grow their practice without the expense of a private program.  We look forward to seeing the vibrant dance programs that were once a part of SAISD history flourish.

In the 2021-2022 school year, Ballet Folklorico was added as a formal program to the following campuses:  Elementary – De Zavala  and Young Women’s Leadership Academy Primary; Middle School – Bonham Academy and Longfellow; and High School – Brackenridge and Jefferson High School.

Your gifts can support this growth. Read more about the expansion of the program here in coverage from SA Report.


In spring 2021, 17 middle and high school teachers at eight campuses engaged students in hydroponics through Science and Career and Technical Education courses in partnership with SAISD Educational Technology, Science and CTE Departments. They integrated the grow wall into their instruction to support concepts such as ecology, including photosynthesis and sustainability, agriculture, and culinary arts through farm-to-table lessons through caring for and monitoring their own plants and then using them in their dishes. 100% of the pilot program’s teachers reported a high level of student engagement with their grow wall. In spring 2022, the SAISD Foundation partnered with SAISD to expand the hydroponics program with an additional 16 teachers across K-12. We were proud to partner with H-E-B on this exciting program.

“Working with the Grow Wall has provided an opportunity for my students that they normally do not have at home. Not only do they get to see the growing process, but they also have access to healthy food options daily. We are now implementing a gardening program with our local community center to further their practice and knowledge of healthy food options.” – Chef Placette, Lanier High School

“I connected the Grow Wall with our land use, agriculture, and climate change units. [I also] talk[ed] about how agriculture affects the land and how hydroponics can be a more sustainable option in some places. I want to keep it going next year in my classes and find ways to use the food we are growing besides just sending it home with kids and staff.” – Alexis Zanger, Highlands High School

Soil Gardens

Soil gardens have been the topic of many an innovative grant request over the years. Teachers know that school-based soil gardens are a powerful hands-on method to teach science standards across multiple grade levels and to engage students in social-emotional learning. Beyond the grasping of key science concepts, teachers leading past projects have also shared stories of students’ growth in pride, confidence and nurturing as they see what they have planted blossom. In partnering with H-E-B this spring, we were able to support both new gardens and the expansion of existing garden projects at 20 SAISD campuses. In preparation for the expansion, the SAISD Science Department worked with teachers who were past garden grant winners during the summer to author lessons across grade levels to support teachers in making their school gardens true outdoor learning environments.

The soil garden expansion complements the work being done across 60 SAISD elementary schools in PE Classes with CHEF where healthy food and nutrition is being taught and experienced during an eight week curriculum for all students. The foods and recipes discussed are also being featured in the school cafeterias thanks to SAISD Food and Nutrition and some will be grown in the garden, or in the expanding hydroponics programs we are supporting on campuses – truly bringing the greens full circle.

Our goal is to partner with SAISD Science, Ed Tech, PE and Food and Nutrition as well as H-E-B and additional funders who want to enhance learning opportunities and decrease social determinants of health to support 20 schools each year.

Our Programs

For the SAISD Foundation, our programs are those things we have found are making a significant impact on our students and their success. Accordingly, we are committed to dedicating our resources to making them happen each year. When you donate to the SAISD Foundation you are supporting programs like these!

Book Buddies

Book Buddies is a program of the SAISD Foundation that provides tens of thousands of free children’s books to students in San Antonio ISD schools. The pivotal goal of our program is to help children grow their own home libraries enabling them to be strong and proud readers. Through Book Buddies, volunteers sort through books by grade level, assess the condition of the books, clean them, and place them into boxes to be distributed to the 23,000 students we aim to serve for the 2021-2022 school year. Ultimately we plan to serve all 35,000 students in elementary schools in SAISD enrolled in grades PK-8th. To learn more about the program and how you can get involved click here


Field Trips

Field trips or learning expeditions, as we like to call them, enrich and expand curriculum and increase students’ awareness of assets in their community. These experiences bring one-dimensional lessons to life and provide hands-on learning to make concepts memorable. These multisensory learning experiences also create enthusiasm for subjects that are difficult to replicate through other means. Workplace-based field trips play a critical role in sparking student interest in a multitude of career options. Through dedicated partnerships across the city and beyond, we are working to grow these experiences and make them accessible for students across our 90+ SAISD schools.

Through this strategic initiative, the SAISD Foundation wants to enable more students to participate in these educational journeys. Our goal is to engage 25,000 students annually and through new partnerships and increased investment, we can reach this goal.

You have a role to play in expanding student experiences in SAISD!

Not yet one of our partners? Fill out this form and let us know what opportunity you can offer. You may be able to offer no-cost experiences for our students in STEM, Arts, History, workplace-based experiences, and more. You can limit the size of the group, grade levels, and the frequency that fits your organization.

You can also donate to help us reach our goal to support 25,000 students in 2022-2023.

Educator Grants

The SAISD Foundation is committed to expanding students’ experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. A key way we do that is by awarding grants to our teachers and those who are in our schools every day. As an independent 501 c 3 that is a part of the SAISD family, we are able to work closely with our campus leaders and educators to fund what is the best fit for their students and their campuses. From classroom mini-grants to whole school principal grants, together we are expanding experiences and opportunities for our students every school day! Click here to to read more about the what our talented are implementing both in the classroom and afterschool through our educator grant program.